Wait! shouted a disembodied voice in the darkness. I had just walked down along the harbour. Wait, it shouted again. Then laughter. Hey guys, wait. More laughter. Everyone, wait. I continued up the steps to onto South Road. I heard them behind me, down below. Three, four of them. In the top floor of a house ahead a girl was sitting at a window, her face lit by the screen of her mobile phone.
The Prom was not a bad as I’d expected. The middle part is closed off, too scattered with stones and sand to be driveable, and a small section of the pavement has been battered, broken away but other than that it is in tact. Aberystwyth is very much open for business, said the councillor as I settled him into the studio, despite all the news coverage. They’ve just said that we’d had the strongest winds, she said after listening to the Welsh news, 78 miles an hour. She then went on to tell me that she’s seen two teenage girls going walking down to the jetty in the worst of it. I tried to shout at them, she said, but some one got there before me. Stupid. And I wasn’t going to go in after them. We all did it, he said later. It’s what kids do. Yes, I suppose it is. People check in at The Richmond, the councillor had said, when they know a storm is coming just to be in the thick of it.
I lost my temper. I knew it was coming. I heard him call out and then I heard the panting. It circled me and then jumped up scratching at my legs. I lost it. No! I shouted, glaring at it. It crouched down, his eyes gleeful. Is this a game? No! I shouted again, my forefinger erect and threatening. For a brief second I saw myself reincarnated as my mother. It’s owner, had by that time, caught up with it and was at my side breathing heavily. Sorry, he said. I don’t like it, I said. I don’t like him jumping up at me. I’m sure that he is a lovely dog but isn’t it possible to put him on a lead? Sorry, he said, scooping the sheepdog puppy into his arms. It was a she. Come on Pippa, he said, offering me a rueful smile. I was shaken. I told him about it later. Good, he said. I don’t feel comfortable losing my temper. Something of my equilibrium is lost. I feel almost shameful. It’s just not what I am used to. Mum’s dogs, and they were always ‘hers’, were always impeccably behaved. Woe betide if they hadn’t been. It is too chaotic. He lets it run around the estate, he said. Willy nilly. It’s always jumping up. It’s the unexpectedness of it, that’s all. The dog is joyful, that’s all. In love with life. But it is too much for me. It’s like kids, wild kids, I run a mile. I’m used to rigour, control. I am sorry. Sorry I lost my temper. I will do better, next time.